A 6th Judicial District Court judge sentenced a La Plata County woman to 10 years in prison Thursday after she admitted to running over her cousin with a truck, almost killing him.
Katrina Baker, 28, told law enforcement the night of her arrest that she hit Arlan Vicenti, 35, “on purpose,” a sheriff’s deputy wrote in arresting documents. Prosecutors charged Baker with attempted first-degree murder, vehicular assault, driving under the influence and first-degree assault.
Baker pleaded guilty to vehicular assault, a Class 4 felony punishable by two to six years in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000. But the maximum can be as high as 12 years if a judge finds “extraordinary aggravating circumstances.” Prosecutors wrote in the plea agreement that Baker’s five prior DUI-related convictions met the standard for a harsher sentence.
The plea agreement capped the maximum possible sentence at 10 years.
“Just looking at the facts of this case, there’s no question that you could have been convicted of attempted second-degree murder,” District Court Judge Suzanne Carlson said in her sentencing order. “The maximum I can give you is 10 years – but there’s an argument that it should be more.”
The incident occurred at 1:40 a.m. Dec. 30, 2018, at the Sonoco Gas Station, 28870 U.S. Highway 160 in the Grandview area, a few miles east of downtown Durango.
A Flight for Life helicopter flew Vicenti to a hospital in Denver with internal injuries after the crash, including broken ribs and damage to his internal organs, according to statements made at Thursday’s sentencing hearing. Vicenti, who Baker said she considered a brother, appeared in court Thursday to offer a statement.
Arresting documents show Baker hit her cousin with the truck over an argument about her husband; more specifically, Vicenti said Baker deserved better. Vicenti left the courtroom Thursday before the judge imposed the sentence.
“It is what it is, cousin. Nobody is perfect in this world,” Vicenti said, wiping his eyes with a tissue. “No matter what happens, I’ll always be here for you.”
Baker’s attorney Jason Eley said his client has been sober for about a year and that she has since realized she caused injuries to someone she loves. But the facts of the case could constitute attempted second-degree murder, said Deputy District Attorney Sean Murray. Any sentence less than 10 years in prison “diminishes the value of human life,” he said.
“She’s lucky he did not die,” Murray said as Baker sobbed into her hands. Baker’s mother, husband, son and friends sat in the courtroom gallery behind her.
Baker said her tears “aren’t for the outcome I’m expecting; the tears are because I’m seeing what alcohol has done to me, my family and my community.”
“I have a problem and this could have been a lot worse, all due to alcohol and not being in my right state of mind,” she said. Baker has two children and is five months pregnant, according to statements made at the sentencing hearing.
Judge Carlson asked someone to take Baker’s son out of the courtroom saying, “You’re going to be going to prison today.” Baker hugged her boy, her husband and her mother before the judge imposed sentence.
“Society would expect that if you run someone over with a vehicle because you’re angry, that you are going to go to prison for a long time,” Carlson said. “You will get a chance to be with your children, but it will be a while.”
Baker wailed as the judge announced her 10-year prison sentence. She left in the custody of La Plata County Sheriff’s deputies.